The Real Truth About Dental Floss

The Real Truth About Dental Floss
August 17th, 2016 | Alice Kelsey, Dental, Media, Periodontal

Every year a few articles inevitably arise that question the legitimacy of some part of your everyday dental care. Some years it’s toothpaste or mouthwash¬† – and this year, it was time for the humble roll of dental floss to come under scrutiny.

Do we think people should stop flossing because of these reports? No. We disagree with this message, and here are some reasons why.

Flossing Is Sometimes the Best Tool Available!

Dental floss is a handy tool and there is not a study in the world that can deny its ability to remove unwanted food and debris from between the teeth. This makes flossing just one of many tools in your toolbox to fight dental decay and gum disease!

As our Dental Hygienist, Alice Kelsey, explains in our video on the best ways to brush and floss, “if you aren’t flossing (or using interdentals) you are missing 35% of your tooth surface.”

“Dental hygienists work with patients to tailor dental hygiene plans based on your individual needs. If floss is working as part of your dental routine, and keeping your mouth healthy, then continue to use it.”

This is particularly true for those of us who may have a crowded smile, or little space between their teeth, as dental floss may be the only dental device thin enough to fit between them. For these people, flossing plays an integral part in maintaining dental health – this is because in many instances flossing is simply the best tool for the job.

Great Alternatives to Dental Floss

But what about those people who weren’t born with dainty fingers?

To use floss correctly requires a certain level of technique, coordination and dexterity, and a mouth that opens wide enough for you to reach all your teeth. For those of us that struggle with flossing, there are many alternatives available that can make the job easier.

For example, while dental floss might be perfectly suited for tiny gaps, the way it is passed through the teeth does not make it suitable for wrapping in behind braces or bridgework, and threadable floss or interdental brush may be preferable.

interdentals5
What size are you? Dental floss (from left to right), threadable floss for braces (2nd)
& large (3rd), medium (4th) and small (5th) interdental brushes

As the photo above shows, each interdental brush is covered in bristles just like a normal toothbrush. However, these bristles are angled at 360 degrees around the entire brush. This makes them perfect for reaching the nooks and crannies that might be a little bit harder to access with a piece of floss.

Australian Dentists will Remain Pro-Dental Floss

Research is being released constantly that links your dental hygiene to the potential for long-term conditions such as periodontal disease, and the downside to flossing is nil, with the Australian Dental Association stating,

“The limited amount of scientific evidence surrounding flossing is not a reflection of its clinical effectiveness. Patients should continue to include interdental cleaning as a part of their daily oral hygiene routine, along with brushing twice a day and regular dental visits.”

While we agree that there could be more research into the long-term benefits of dental flossing, it shouldn’t stop you continuing the practices you and your dentist have established for your dental health.

As one commentator put it, using a lack of ‘long term scientific evidence’ to nullify the benefits of flossing is similar to stating that parachutes don’t work because no-one has conducted a study large or long enough to prove their effectiveness beyond scientific doubt. Common sense would indicate this result speaks for itself, without needing to test the hypothesis over a thirty year period. Just ask the skydivers!

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